Ore DEQ: too much mercury in Rogue River

TThe Rogue River in Jackson County, Oregon (wiki commons)
The Rogue River in Jackson County, Oregon (wiki commons)

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — State authorities want to reduce high levels of mercury in resident fish in the Rogue River and other popular whitewater and sport-fishing rivers.

A draft assessment by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shows tests of northern pikeminnow taken from the Rogue had 10 times the state standard for mercury.

Bill Meyers, Rogue Basin coordinator for agency, says the assessment adds a dozen rivers listed as impaired by mercury.

Reducing mercury levels is likely to be difficult. It is found in the local geology and falls in rain from atmospheric sources produced by burning coal in Asia.

Bob Ferrar of the Oregon Public Health Authority says migratory fish such as salmon and steelhead are safe to eat, but fish that spend their lives in the river can be a problem.

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